We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: support teams are the unsung heroes of every business. Whether they’re offering in-person help or answering questions from afar, they’re the face of the company.
But offering great customer support is also really, really hard. For starters, if a customer asks for help, they’re already probably unhappy because something is wrong. And support teams are held to some pretty challenging KPIs. They need to resolve as many issues as quickly as possible—without compromising the quality of service. And the support team directly impacts churn rates, so they’re a key factor in whether a business grows, stagnates, or becomes unprofitable.
With so much to manage, support teams rely on technology to help them do more, more quickly. Workflow automation can be a huge boon in this regard; it can enable your team to streamline microprocesses and empower them to reach long-term goals.
Like any new technology, though, many support teams aren’t sure where to start when it comes to using automation; they often have more questions than answers. To make it easier, here’s a look at three common questions about incorporating customer support automation into your business!
How can automation help my support team manage their workload?
A common opinion of customer support jobs is that they’re bad or unpleasant. They’re emotionally demanding, and the workload is grueling; support agents are basically overworked drones.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Work can be calm, enjoyable, and balanced for your customer support team—with the right tech.
According to GrooveHQ, a small support team can save roughly 600 hours every year with automation. That’s 25 whole days or 75 eight-hour shifts that your team doesn’t have to worry about working.
So how does automation save your team so much time and energy?
To answer that, let’s look at the existing process of resolving customer issues. When a ticket or issue comes in, you need to:
- Triage it to determine its priority
- Assign it to the correct agent
- Escalate the ticket to an expert if necessary
These steps aren’t just difficult to coordinate between; they each present unique challenges. Assessing the priority of tickets, for example, is truly complex. Not only must you consider the content of the ticket—what the problem is and its seriousness—but you also have to do the very human work of interpreting the ticket’s tone. A customer who is incredibly angry needs a much different response than a customer who is fairly content.
According to GrooveHQ, a small support team can save roughly 600 hours every year with automation.
Likewise, assigning tickets can take a lot of time if you’re doing it manually. Ticket escalation can also be a roadblock to resolution because you need to get in touch with the right expert and orchestrate a smooth handoff.
Customer support automation has benefits for your team in each of these steps. You can create a workflow that leverages tools like the Watson Tone Analyzer, for example, to analyze the sentiment of customer tickets—and even voicemails! This automation gives your agents a clearer picture of which tickets need urgent attention.
You can also use workflow automation to:
- Intelligently escalate tickets in Slack
- Assign tickets to the right agent and enable account-based customer service
- Receive alerts about tickets according to threshold
- File and triage internal helpdesk issues
- And more!
Where does automation fit in with omnichannel support?
Zendesk reports that since last year, most customers who have multiple tickets have used more than one channel to seek help. In other words, omnichannel is here to stay. Companies that don’t execute on the mandate to deliver excellent support experiences—whether the customer comes in via live chat, social media, phone, or email—will be left behind.
So where does automation fit in the brave new landscape of omnichannel support?
In order to truly provide seamless omnichannel support, the teams responsible for each of these channels need instant insight into the customer’s prior interactions with you. That can be a tall order because phone calls are usually logged in a separate app than, say, tickets submitted from a helpdesk page.
Having this information available directly affects customer satisfaction: an Accenture survey indicates that 89% of customers become frustrated when they need to repeat their problem multiple times.
You could rely on your support agents to manually update a customer’s information in your CRM after every single interaction. But with this approach, it simply won’t get done consistently. Your agents are too busy to focus on manual data entry; every second they spend typing is a second they’re not available to take calls or respond to tweets.
Creating a 360° customer view is key to enabling true omnichannel support, and workflow automation can make it happen. You can use it to move crucial customer information into a central place so agents always have an accurate bird’s eye view. This empowers them to offer more personalized support, which is something most customers expect.
By eliminating the needs to hunt for information or enter it into different systems, workflow automation also benefits your team by maximizing the amount of time they can spend interacting with customers.
Can customer support automation help my team meet their KPIs?
You know the feeling: it’s the middle of the month, and you’ve just looked at the stats for your team. Everyone’s a little bit behind on several KPIs; you’re trying to figure out how to get your agents back on track.
While contests and recognition for agents who hit their numbers are always motivational, there’s a better way to reach your KPIs consistently. Automation actually makes the job of a support agent easier so the quality of their work can improve.
89% of customers become frustrated when they need to repeat their problem multiple times.
According to Zendesk, companies that offer omnichannel support see a 16% improvement in first reply time, a 31% improvement in first resolution time, and an almost 40% improvement in requester wait time. So if you use workflow automation to create seamless omnichannel experiences, you’ll quickly see improvements in these metrics.
But workflow automation also benefits your team’s KPIs in other ways, too.
To begin with, customer support automation can help you intelligently prevent churn, which is the most important KPI for customer support. For example, you can automatically send customer activity from apps like Intercom to an AI platform for intelligent analysis. When the AI tool identifies a customer who is particularly likely to churn, another automation can create a high priority ticket in Zendesk so an agent can reach out right away.
Customer support automation can also empower you to make data-driven decisions that reflect your customers’ behavior. One of the most difficult aspects of support is picking out the patterns beyond simple metrics like Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR). You need to develop a robust picture of customer behavior across all channels and products.
Usually, this involves advanced data analysis. To make it more straightforward, you can create an automated workflow that collects key data and pushes it into an analytics platform like Einstein. This way, you can make identify potential issues, fix gaps in service, and execute a long-term support strategy.
By empowering your support team, customer support automation benefits everyone
In a world where 82% of customers have stopped patronizing a company because of poor support (according to GrooveHQ), it’s paramount that you give your agents every tool possible to succeed. Customer support automation is a fundamental part of any support team’s toolkit—especially if you’re looking to keep pace with omnichannel support and changing customer behavior. By implementing automated workflows across the support cycle, your team will always be prepared!